The Cold War: A MILITARY History

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9780312241834: The Cold War: A MILITARY History

From 1949 to 1991 the terrible potential of the Cold War loomed over the United States, the Soviet Union, and by extension, the rest of the world. The seeming-certainty of global nuclear conflict defined and articulated the cultural, political, and in particular, the military evolution of both nations. The Cold War provoked an unprecedented military build-up, and the rapidly advancing technology of warfare inspired fundamental changes in military strategy and tactics.

Many books have been written about the politics of this turbulent period, but none have so comprehensively examined the conflict's military strategy and tactics. Using newly declassified information, David Miller, a noted military historian, reveals not only the vast effect that Cold War technology had on the military, but also how the threat of war very nearly became a terrible reality. Chillingly, Miller reveals that while the menace of nuclear war dominated the military theory of the time, there was little in reality that corresponded to these theories. The book goes on to examine each military area in turn, covering the formation of the two great alliances, NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and the strategies and major weapons in the rival navies, armies and air forces. Finally, his in-depth analysis of how military strategy shaped events, and his accounts of crises which could have turned the Cold War hot--the suppression of the Budapest uprising in 1956, and the imposition of martial law in Poland in 1981--are essential to an understanding of this definitive period in history.

That the Cold War ended without a conflict was due to professionalism on both sides. The result, Miller suggests, would have impressed the Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu, who, writing in the fifth century BC, said that "to subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill."

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Review:

ICBMs and MIRVs, duck-and-cover drills and fallout suits, the Warsaw Pact and the Berlin Garrison: it has been over for only a decade, but in many ways the material and symbolic culture of the cold-war era seems ancient. British military historian David Miller documents the military aspects of the decades-long struggle between East and West as if it indeed happened long ago, patiently and thoroughly explaining the complex disagreements among the Allied powers over how the post-World War II world was to be ruled, and how those disagreements led in time to the Iron Curtain, the arms race, and the specter of nuclear holocaust.

Miller takes great interest in the ordnance of destruction, cataloging the orders of battle and assets of the contending powers and their satellites. At times this thoroughness overcomes clarity with a surfeit of acronym-laden detail ("the SS-16 carried a single 1 MT warhead and was essentially an SS-20 with an additional third stage, giving it a range of 9,000 km. This range meant that the SS-16 was classified as an ICBM and was covered by the SALT treaty, whereas the SS-20 was an IRBM and thus was not covered by SALT"). The complex prose notwithstanding, Miller offers a highly useful synopsis of the struggle, closing with an understated observation: "Both sides in the Cold War seem to have realized that a conflict between them would almost certainly have escalated from conventional to nuclear.... In consequence, they kept their heads, and for forty years they kept the arms race within reason--just." --Gregory McNamee

From the Inside Flap:

From 1949 to 1991 the world was overshaowed by the Cold War and the constant threat of global nuclear conflict. Only when it ended did the realities of what had been involved begin to emerge. Indeed, much has remained hidden until now.

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David Miller
Editorial: Thomas Dunne Books (1999)
ISBN 10: 0312241836 ISBN 13: 9780312241834
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Descripción Thomas Dunne Books, 1999. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería 0312241836

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